Personal Characteristics And Sexual Behaviour Among Secondary School Students

Sex Education Project and Seminar Material

Personal Characteristics And Sexual Behaviour Among Secondary School Students

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

For several decades, concerns have been mounting about adolescent sexuality and sexual behaviour. These concerns have been intensified by several factors such as increase rates of adolescent birth, increase rates of child bearing outside marriage, high rates of sexually transmitted infections and the risk of exposure to the dreaded Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (Collins:1980; Benjamin, 1996). Sexual behaviour refers to sexual desire, feelings, expression which can take the form of masturbation or sex with a partner, while adolescent sexuality refers to sexual behaviour in adolescents (Gupta, Weiss and Mane, 1996).

As Collins (1980) pointed out, sex seems to dominate the thoughts and actions of modern human beings. It is the central issue of concern among students at all levels of education. It is a dominant theme on radio and television, in magazines, advertisement of all kinds, literature and music. It is also a dominant theme in the theatre, movies, art, politics and the church. Indeed, “that which God created for enjoyment and intimacy has become perverted” (Collins 1980:281).

According to Hauser and Debra (2004), “Early timing of sexual initiation is important for two reasons. First, the younger the age of the first sexual intercourse, the more likely for the experience to be coercive, and forced sexual intercourse is related to long lasting negative effects. Secondly, the younger the age of first sexual intercourse, the greater the risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Abdool and Morar, (1995) opines that effective contraceptive use generally requires planning and preparation prior to having sexual intercourse. This is often a problem for adolescents because young people usually report that their first sexual intercourse “Just happened” and that they were not planning to have sex at that time.

According to him, sexual intercourse requires consistent use of an effective contraceptive method, but this is problematic for adolescents because young adolescents tend to be less deliberative and rational about sexual decisions than older persons, and they also tend to have intercourse more sporadically.

According to Christopher and Cate (1985). The likelihood of sexual behaviour occurring between adolescents may be viewed as determined by the level of emotional investment felt in the relationship and by the occurrence of a sexually instigating situation. Even given a high level of intimacy in a relationship, some specific events, conditions or interactions take place that cause individuals to experience sexual interest, and define sexual behaviour as possible and appropriate in that situation. Expressing concern for negative and attempting to soothe the feelings of stress, anger and unhappiness (relevant to the nurturance of sexual incentive) even more directly conveys a sense of emotional investment in partner.

This study is therefore undertaken against the background of such a pressing warning as the researcher wonders whether secondary school students’ sexual behaviour is related to students’ personal characteristics. In order to ascertain this, the following personal characteristics are isolated for investigation: students’ gender, self-concept and locus of control.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Adolescents’ involvement in premarital sex is a source of great concern to parents, government and society. It portends grave risk and dangers not only to the adolescents but also to the society. These dangers include contracting unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) including HIV/AIDS. Contracting HIV/AIDS or STD may lead to stigmatization, death, or infertility. On the otherhand, contracting unplanned pregnancy may predispose a girl to committing septic abortion which may in turn lead to death or infertility. Should she choose to keep the pregnancy, she might become a single parent and would have to drop out of school, at least for sometime. Beside, teenage girls stand the risk of suffering damage to their reproductive organs during childbirth, a condition known as Vesico vagina fistula (VVF) (Papalia and Olds, 1994).

Furthermore, adolescents’ indulgence in pre-marital sex represents an aggravated erosion of moral base of our society and a repugnant debasement of human sexuality. There were times when virginity was a necessary qualification for marriage, and, there were times when it was a taboo for young people to discuss sexual matters or express sexual desires in the presence, or to the knowledge of an adult. Today, the story is different, sexual permissiveness is fast replacing sexual discipline and modernity offers itself as the principal vehicle for this degenerative change (Isangedighi, 1994).

Concerted efforts have been made to, at least, slow down this change and secure for our young ones a more wholesome future. These include researches, public enlightenment campaigns and admonitions. Researches have been conducted to isolate the factors that could be manipulated towards curbing adolescents’ sexual indulgence.

Governmental and non-governmental organizations have put up public enlightenment campaigns to help adolescents and indeed, the general public appreciates the dangers of sexual indulgence. Churches and moral crusaders have also offered admonitions aimed at encouraging sexual discipline.

Despite all these attempts, the problem is still on the increase. In both the urban and rural areas, the story remains the same. It is therefore, necessary that further insight be gained into how the problem of adolescents’ indulgence in premarital sexuality can be tackled. Since individuals differ in their indulgence in pre-marital sexuality, the researcher wondered whether personal characteristics are related to this phenomenon. This study therefore aims at investigating what relationship exists between personal characteristics and adolescent’s sexual behaviour.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between personal characteristics of senior secondary school students and their sexual behaviour. In view of the personal characteristics isolated for investigation, the following are the specific objectives of the study.

  1. To determine if gender influences the sexual behaviour of students.
  2. To determine the relationship between self concept and students’ sexual behaviour.
  3. To determine the relationship between locus of control and students’ sexual behaviour.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions are raised to guide the study:

  1. Do male and female students differ in their sexual behaviour?
  2. Is there any relationship between self-concept and students’ sexual behaviour?
  3. Is there any relationship between locus of control and students’ sexual behaviour?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The hypotheses that guided the study were as follows:

  1. There is no significant difference between male and female adolescent students’ sexual behaviour.
  2. There is no significant relationship between self concept and students’ sexual behaviour.
  3. There is no significant relationship between locus of control and students’ sexual behaviour.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study will be significant to several people and in several ways. Firstly, it will be helpful to the government as it will provide data that will serve as input in making policy decisions on public health with respect to sexuality. It will also provide data that might help government in developing programmes of intervention in the area of STD prevention and control. Secondly, the study will be beneficial to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are involved in HIV/AIDS and STD prevention and management. The study will help them to be aware of key personal characteristics that could be manipulated for success in their chosen area of intervention. Thirdly, the study will be beneficial to counsellors. The client is very important in any counselling relationship. For him/her to benefit from counselling, he/she has to be helpful to adjust relevant personal and environmental variables with a view to achieving congruence in self-situational relationship (Nwachuku, 2006). This study will give counsellors insight into personal factors to probe for when counselling clients with sexual problems. Consequently, it will make them more proficient in guiding their clients in goal negotiation and necessary adjustments. Fourthly, the study will be beneficial to parents. It will make them to become aware of some vital personal characteristics that make their wards vulnerable to maladaptive sexual behaviours.

Finally, the study will be useful to religious bodies, socio-cultural organizations and other agencies that are interested in promoting moral discipline among adolescents. They will use data provided by this study as a guide in their bid to moulding and remoulding adolescents’ sexual behaviour.

1.7 Delimitation of the Study

The study is delimited to personal characteristics such as: gender, self-concept, locus of control and students’ sexual behaviour in secondary school. Only male and female senior secondary two and three students from five secondary schools randomly selected in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area shall be used for the study.

1.8 Assumptions of the Study

The following assumptions underlies this study:

  1. Personal characteristics are not uniformly distributed among people. Rather, they vary from individual to individual.
  2. Sexual behaviour is not uniformly distributed among people. Rather, it varies from person to person.
  3. Personal characteristics are determinable or measurable
  4. Sexual behaviour is measurable.

1.9 Definition of Terms

The following terms shall be used in the study as defined:

Personal characteristics:

These are generally considered an immutable quality of the person that either cannot be changed or only changed at excessive cost.


The quality of being male or female

Locus of Control:

Individual’s success-failure attribution, the quality of being internally directed, externally directed or ambivalent.

Physical Self-Concept:

One’s perception of one’s body, health and attractiveness.

Academic Self-Concept:

One’s perception of one’s academic ability.

Social Self-Concept:

One’s perception of self in relation to others.

Family self-concept:

One’s perception of self in relation to one’s family.

Moral Self – Concept:

One’s perception of the degree of one’s conformity to societal norms.

Personal Characteristics And Sexual Behaviour Among Secondary School Students

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